A Study of Matthew 13:11
In the Matthew chapter 13 the Lord Jesus told the multitude the Parable of the Sower, but He did not explain the parable. Then at the end of the parable He said in verse 9, “He who hath ears to hear, let him hear”. Now, that is a curious way to end this parable. Paraphrased, the Lord is saying, “He who has spiritual ears to hear, let him understand this parable”. Jesus did not explain this parable to the multitude. And the disciples were confused. Like the multitude they did not understand this parable. And so they said,
“Lord, why speakest thou unto them in parables?”
Why do You make it impossible for them to hear and understand You?
What was Jesus’ answer?
He said in verse 11,
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
First of all, what are “mysteries”?
A mystery is not something mysterious, or something that cannot be known. According to Webster’s Dictionary the first meaning of a mystery is, “a religious truth that man can know through revelation alone and cannot fully understand”. A mystery is a divine truth that was hidden in the Word of God, but is now revealed in the Gospel. And thus, a mystery is not something that remains unknown, but it is something that can be known by God revealing to us what that mystery is.
And thus, what are the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven?
These are the doctrines of the way to the Kingdom of Heaven; these are the doctrines of the Gospel of salvation. And the Lord Jesus tells us here in verse 11 that these “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” will be revealed to the disciples, but they will not be revealed to the multitude.
What an astounding statement!
The Lord tells us here that the band of disciples around Him, the group that He has chosen to follow Him, this group receives special privileges which are not given to the multitude that came together to hear Him. But these are not incidental privileges.
These are privileges to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. These are privileges to know the way to Heaven, to know the way of salvation, to know the Gospel of eternal life in Jesus Christ. And to the multitude these privileges are not given. What an astounding statement! We may intuitively want to protest against this kind of teaching.
But who are we to object against God’s Word?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?
Instead, we should tremble before the Word of God.
Is it possible that we too may be counted among those whom Jesus chose to be His disciples?
Or are we in the same boat as the unsaved multitude who heard the words of our Lord, but failed to understand the meaning of His words?
Let these words of verse 11 ring in your ears: “But to them it is not given”. The Lord will give to His chosen ones spiritual ears to hear, and spiritual eyes to see the Kingdom of Heaven, but to the multitude out there the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven remain an unsolved mystery. Their spiritual ears and spiritual eyes remain closed. They will hear with their carnal ears the words spoken, and see with their carnal eyes the words spoken by God as recorded in the Bible, but to them these words remain mysterious parables, with many contradictions that they cannot reconcile.
What did we learn in our previous church about parables?
They taught us that Jesus spoke in parables to make spiritual truths easier to understand. That teaching did not come out of the Bible. The Lord Jesus tells us here that the reason He spoke in parables was so that the truth might be hidden to those whom God does not want to save. The Lord Jesus was instructing His disciples about the sovereignty of God. He is teaching them, and teaching us, about election and predestination. He did not say “Well, these are doctrines that are too difficult for you to understand, since you are still beginners in the faith, and thus we shall postpone these doctrines until later”. Quite the contrary. This was an event in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and He did not hesitate to teach His disciples right away of the doctrines of election and predestination. We must do the same.
And why did He do that?
He did this so that we understand clearly who our God is, and what His character is, and what His attributes are. We must get to know God, for knowing God is equivalent to salvation. That is why in this church we will speak freely about the difficult doctrines as well as the easy ones, without distinction. We do not want to hold back anything, for we are commanded to bring the whole counsel of God.
And so, are parables given to enhance the truth, or to conceal the truth?
Is God using parables to clarify the true Gospel, or to hide the true Gospel?
Clearly, the Lord Jesus said in verse 11 that He spoke in parables to hide the true Gospel from those who are to remain unsaved.
Is it God’s will that many remain spiritually deaf and blind?
From the words of verse 11 it appears that this is really true!
And let it be perfectly clear that no one can hear and understand the true Gospel unless God the Holy Spirit opens our spiritual ears and opens our spiritual eyes. Let us see what the following verses teach us.
By Alfred J. Chompff